Okinawans were outraged Sunday that Japan’s prime minister reneged on his campaign pledge to move a U.S. military base off their island, a decision that upholds a longstanding agreement with Washington.
Protesters held signs plastered with the Japanese character for “anger” as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama visited the Okinawa prefectural (state) office. His broken promise over Okinawa deepens political confusion just weeks ahead of nationwide elections.
The southern semitropical island is important to the U.S. military because it is near China, Taiwan and the Korean peninsula, where tensions have risen sharply after North Korea was blamed last week for the sinking of a South Korean warship.
The people of Okinawa have long complained about the noise, jet-crash dangers and crime worries that come from housing more than half of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan, stationed under the bilateral defense alliance.